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San Antonio Spurs Fined $250,000 by NBA After Starters Sent Home

The San Antonio Spurs were fined $250,000 by the National Basketball Association a day after four of their starters skipped a game at the Miami Heat.

The NBA said in an e-mailed release yesterday that the move violated league policy “against resting players in a manner contrary to the best interests of the NBA.”

Among the players pulled from the lineup and sent back to San Antonio were 36-year-old Tim Duncan, 30-year-old Tony Parker and 35-year-old Manu Ginobili. The shorthanded Spurs kept the game close until the final minute, ultimately falling 105-100 two nights ago to the defending champion Heat.

“The team did this without informing the Heat, the media or the league office in a timely way,” NBA Commissioner David Stern said. “Under these circumstances, I have concluded that the Spurs did a disservice to the league and our fans.”

San Antonio was playing its fourth road game in five nights and finishing a six-game road trip. The Spurs tonight host Memphis, which has a league-best 12-2 record. The Spurs, 13-4, are a half-game behind the Grizzlies in the Southwest division.

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said he decided to rest players for the game when the league schedule came out in July.

The nationally televised game at Miami posted a 1.7 overnight rating, according to TNT, which averaged a record 1.7 for the network’s NBA coverage last season. The NBA receives about $930 million a year from Walt Disney Co.’s ESPN and ABC and Time Warner Inc.’s TNT to show games.

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